At times like now, many might feel like they are engulfed by misery and nothing can cheer them up. That's when too many bad things happen at the same time. But then, beneath the misery, something good may appear before your eyes, if you try.
From news reports, it seems that everybody in Thailand is wallowing in misery. Some 160,000 people, with their jobs suspended due to the floods, are still waiting to return to work.
Many fresh graduates, including some who could not obtain their teaching licence because their four-year course has not yet won the authorities' approval, would fail in job hunting.
Fearing losses, Chatuchak Weekend Market vendors staged a protest last weekend against the new lease conditions set by the landlord, the State Railway of Thailand. Luckily, if SRT comes up with satisfactory terms, they won't protest and close Phaholyothin Road again today.
It also saddened many when they learned about the physical assault at Thammasat University, where student brawls are rare. It’s beyond imagination that Thais could be so mean to other Thais just by holding different political views.
The government is also coming under heavy attack on many fronts. Many fear a re-emergence of political instability, something that has dragged Thailand down in the past five years.
Amid good news that many parts of the North still enjoy cool breezes, with the mercury down to 6-10 degrees Celsius in the morning, few in the heat-stricken capital are encouraged to take a break and enjoy it following reports of dangerous smog in several provinces.
Speaking about the North, I was reminded of a recent visit to Doi Tung in Chiang Rai.
At the Sa Paper factory, workers were happily doing their jobs. They are not offended by visitors who busy themselves trying to find the perfect angle to snap them. They even answered any questions proffered.
At the nearby weaving factory, Kham Takhamjing, the first woman to join the royal project years ago when the number of staff was only 6 before it was raised to nearly 100 now, also gladly answered questions.
Auntie Kham, though past the 60-year retirement age, enjoys running the factory. No matter what the outside world is like, she is optimistic that soon one of her looms, which can weave 4-metre carpets for any hotel, would win an order.
“We can weave anything here, from any materials specified” she proudly said.
She did not hide the fact that the happiest part of her work is providing a source of income for many in her village through her factory. Those older than 60, with failing eyesight, are now spinning threads. The younger workers are weaving diligently. The youngest, some below 20, are working on packaging.
“The greatest benefit of working here is we can leave home together and go home together. It’s good that we can spend time together,” she said.
That’s quite a humble way to achieve happiness, at least in the eyes of those living in the capital and earning a living with higher pay but with a less happy career.
Whatever, Auntie Kham just reminded them how easy it is to stay happy, when you have all the basic necessities. Certainly, using a small mobile phone just to smooth contacts with the Bangkok office, she did not need to know about the World Mobile Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain, where global launches of mobile phones were taking place.
She didn’t need to know which overseas restaurant brands are coming to Thailand, as to her any food is good. Then, why bother spending on something you just want to try?
Wearing clothes made of hand-woven fabric, Aunty Kham doesn’t need to know about global fashions. Though, she knows enough to supervise the designing of new patterns and creating of new colours.
She is not as naively optimistic as a child, but she knows what a happy life truly needs.
Look at the Bhutanese. Even if their per capita income of US$2,088 in 2010, according to the World Bank, is less than half of Thailand's $4,600, they look happier than us.
Yes, Auntie Kham inspires me to try to see the good side of bad things. I am totally convinced that if we try, we will know why we are here on earth and how we should wield our constructive, sometimes terribly destructive, power.